Talks Continue in Effort to Rescue Lehman
The fate of Lehman Brothers, the beleaguered investment bank, hung in the balance on Sunday as Federal Reserve officials and the leaders of major financial institutions continued to gather in emergency meetings trying to complete a plan to rescue the stricken bank.
The talks took on even greater urgency on Sunday as government officials push for a deal to be completed before the markets open.
After weeks of agony, Lehman's fate appeared sealed by the end of last week, as its stock market value dropped 74% in a few days, after having lost more than 80% since the beginning of the year. That the Fed and Treasury have called an emergency meeting over the week-end ensures that things are over for the bank and it will either be bought over the week-end (with someone taking over its liabilities) or go bankrupt.
And the very reason the government took action over the week-end is also the one that ensures that it will not go bankrupt: it is considered too big to fall. As the WSJ notes:
A disorderly unwind of Lehman's derivatives trades is only one worry. Another worry is that if Lehman collapses, its distressed assets -- such as commercial real estate -- could suddenly hit Wall Street for sale, forcing prices even lower and potentially forcing other dealers to mark down once again the value of their own holdings.
With both Merrill Lynch and AIG seen as extremely weak (both lost more than 30% of their market value on Friday alone), a liquidation of Lehman could bring them, and others, down, in a collapsing house of cards. Read on...
So, with the precedents set of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bear Stearns, it's likely that we'll see a bailout...with large amounts of public cash committed today with huge liabilities to come. And yet these self-same financial whizzes are the ones that will denigrate 'socialism' as an evil. Funny, that.